Little Big Town: Songs That Should’ve Been Singles
The process of choosing a single for radio is often as arduous a task as writing the song. Each month, Sounds Like Nashville will feature a different artist and explore songs from his or her catalogue that we wish made it to radio. Make no mistake, this is no critique of the artist or label, it’s simply a list of songs we love so much that we think deserve to be in the spotlight. This month, we take a closer listen to Little Big Town’s back catalogue and find eight gems that warrant airplay.
“Tryin'” – from Little Big Town
Featured on Little Big Town’s 2002 self-titled debut album, “Tryin'” showcases the band’s country roots and penchant for story songs. Written by Brett James and Troy Verges, the song paints the vivid picture of a girl leaving home at 18 to try to make it on her own as a big country star. Success doesn’t come quickly as six years later she finds herself taking the late shift at a local cafe while she remains optimistic about pursuing her dreams.
“It’s about hopin’, it’s about dreamin’, it’s about never not believin’ / It’s about taking a walk out on the wire and never lookin’ down / It’s about livin’ instead of dyin’, it’s about spreadin’ your wings and flyin’ / Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s all about tryin’,” they sing on the fiddle-driven chorus.
“That’s Where I’ll Be” – from A Place to Land
Jimi Westbrook is featured on lead throughout “That’s Where I’ll Be” as he sings of all the places he’ll travel to be with his love. A beautiful and descriptive ballad that would be the perfect fit for a Western film, “That’s Where I’ll Be” instantly recalls the Eagles with grooving guitars, spot-on harmonies and a driving beat that keeps the listener intrigued.
“Only What You Make of It” – from A Place to Land
Clocking in at over five minutes, “Only What You Make of It” is a soulful, jazz-fused song that addresses the difficulties life and love often bring while urging the listener to push on and to keep an optimistic outlook. “You make it so hard on yourself / You go lookin’ for the darker side of anything you know you’re gonna find it / You can hold onto it until it takes you under or you can let it go,” Karen Fairchild sings. “It ain’t always fair / But it’s only what you make of it.”
“Runaway Train” – from The Reason Why
This upbeat barn burner features Westbrook’s sultry singing as he tells the tale of running away with the preacher’s daughter. The rollicking song features plenty of guitar distortion and percussion rhythms that fittingly mimics a train leaving the station. Meanwhile, the story-line keeps the listener in suspense as the couple sneak away outside the county lines hoping to head West only to be caught by her father.
“Pavement Ends” – from Tornado
“Pavement Ends” kicks off 2012’s Tornado in full force with hand-clapped rhythms and plenty of banjo bound to get your feet stomping. An ode to those who party in the country, the energy only heightens as the song progresses, begging listeners to “take it all in and let the good times roll.”
“Front Porch Thing” – from Tornado
Also featured on Tornado, “Front Porch Thing” has LBT amping up the party — this time on the porch. Written by Chris Stapleton and Adam Hood, “Front Porch Thing” features Little Big Town’s spellbinding harmonies as they sing about strumming their six-string on the porch at the end of the day. It’s a song that’s so catchy it may inspire the listener to pick up his own guitar for an impromptu front porch jam.
“Leavin’ In Your Eyes” – from Tornado
“Leavin’ In Your Eyes” is from the perspective of a guy who knows the end of his relationship is near. Wanting his girl to stay, he is trying to convince her of all the good times they’ve had and what she’ll eventually be missing. “I read you like an open book / Standing on the edge but you can’t look down / It’d feel better if you just lie / You got leavin’ in your eyes,” LBT sing.
“Live Forever” – from Pain Killer
On “Live Forever,” the band’s flawless harmonies are at the heart of the track as evidenced from the very first verse. While Phillip Sweet has the lead on this song, the group assist on the majority of the stripped-down number with ethereal vocals that are accented with delicate pedal steel, soaring electric guitar accompaniment and light percussion. It’s a song that begs to be put on repeat and one that would be the most striking if played on radio.
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